But three goals in 1:32 changed all of that and earned them a 3-1 win at the Bell Centre on Monday night.
It was an inauspicious start for the Canadiens. On their second power play of the first period, camp try out Simon Desprès had his pass intercepted by Blake Speers who beat Antti Niemi on a breakaway to give the Devils a 1-0 lead.
The action (and bad news) continued later in the period when Nicolas Deslauriers would get into a fight with Brandon Baddock with less than five minutes remaining in the period. Deslauriers would get the takedown but he would not return to the game. He suffered an upper body injury and was taken to hospital as a precaution.
The second period saw the Canadiens kill two penalties but not much else happened in the middle frame as Eddie Lack made all 13 saves over his two periods of play.
In the third period, the Devils seemed to take a 2-0 lead, but the goal was waved off when it was ruled there was contact made with Charlie Lindgren, who came into the game midway through the second period.
A little bit later on, Michael Chaput would find a pinching Victor Mete who made no mistake to score the goal and tie the game.
Shortly after, Jesperi Kotkaniemi found Charles Hudon with a nifty spin-o-rama pass but Hudon couldn’t beat Mackenzie Blackwood. That same shift, Hudon would fire a shot from a bad angle to give the Canadiens the 2-1 lead.
All goals count the same, Hudon scores from a terrible angle on Blackwood pic.twitter.com/URENrwnRVI— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) September 18, 2018
That same shift, Rinat Valiev would find Kotkaniemi alone in front as the third overall pick would score his first goal at the Bell Centre in his first game in the building. It was the third Canadiens goal in 1:32 and it electrified the Bell Centre.
THE EAGLE HAS LANDED— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) September 18, 2018
Kotkaniemi with his first in a Habs uniform pic.twitter.com/hVSkd5gy9G
The rest of the game would continue with the same score as the Habs held on for the victory. The Canadiens outshot the Devils 25-17. Niemi made eight saves on nine shots, while Lindgren made saves on all eight shots he faced.
Blackwood, who played the third period, allowed three goals on 12 shots.
- Victor Mete looked really good. If there was any question whether Mete would earn a spot in the NHL, I think this game ended all of that. He is an NHL player.
- The special teams didn’t look all that great, but you need to remember that practice time has been very limited through camp and the team being split in two groups means the main personnel that will be used in the season hasn’t really been put together.
- Kotkaniemi scoring a goal will be really good for his confidence. He’s in tough to make the team, but any positive events he experiences will be great for him going forward.
- Even before setting up Mete’s goal, I liked what I saw from Michael Chaput. He will likely start the year in the American Hockey League, but he will provide the Rocket with some offence.
- Nicolas Deslauriers getting hurt during a fight in pre-season where he is fighting for a job is not great. He didn’t have anything to prove against the Devils rookie and it will be interesting to see when he gets back this pre-season. With Joel Ward’s debut looming, there isn’t much room for error with Deslauriers.
- The team has a full day off on Tuesday with no practices. The team is back in action Wednesday night against the Florida Panthers at the Bell Centre. The team that played in this one will likely sit that one out and could be the group that heads to Quebec City on Thursday.